‘Global challenges don't go away by themselves, so we have to keep going’

“Especially in tough times like these, events such as ImpactFest are crucial to support entrepreneurs and further connect the ecosystem,” says Irene Samwel. She is a senior account manager at ImpactCity in The Hague and in that role also involved in ImpactFest. The fifth edition of this event will take place from 27 to 29 October, and due to the corona measures it will be completely online.

“ImpactCity is all about doing good & doing business,” says Samwel. “That’s why it is very important to regularly bring the different players from the ecosystem together. ImpactFest is the annual event where the entire ecosystem comes together: from governments and NGOs to entrepreneurs and financiers.” Samwel is curious how the event will be now its program is completely online. “Last year we had 1600 registrations. Of course, this year we hope to reach that number again. We have therefore done everything we can to make the event as interactive as possible. And to ensure that online as well, ImpactFest remains the perfect opportunity to make valuable contacts and gain knowledge.”

Challenges don’t go away by themselves

According to Samwel, in these difficult times it is especially important to continue to help entrepreneurs. “Of course, there are many restrictions at the moment. But I also sense an enormous urge to keep going. And we have to: after all, the global challenges for which these entrepreneurs are trying to find solutions will not go away by themselves.” Linda Vermaat underlines that point of view. As director of Innofest, she offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to test their prototypes. This way, they collect the burden of proof needed to improve their product and ultimately make a successful step to the market. Normally this happens at festivals, but things turned out differently this summer due to the outbreak of the corona virus. “We always urge our entrepreneurs to be creative and flexible. This year we were forced to show these qualities ourselves. Practice what you preach, so to say. I am very proud of we as a team have ensured that entrepreneurs still have a test spot this year. At living labs such as camping Stortemelk on Vlieland, but also online”, says Vermaat.

Online test panel for food innovations

With this she refers to Innofest Test Teevee, the online test method that this year is also part of the ImpactFest program. The format is simple. People who register receive a box in advance containing the innovative products that will be tested. This testing is done online in a virtual meeting where the entrepreneurs join. By connecting directly to potential end users, the entrepreneurs gather very valuable feedback, Vermaat notes. “Innofest Test Teevee, which we already organized at the Oerol cultural festival and for the University of Groningen and Hanze University of Applied Science, works very well.

Both the participating startups and the people in the test panel are very enthusiastic. The sessions are very interactive and provide the entrepreneurs with lots of relevant feedback in a relatively short time. The fact that we help entrepreneurs in advance with two workshops to finetune their test design certainly contributes to this. Sara, the founder of FULFoods, tested a microalgae soft drink with us and said she had never gathered so much information in half an hour. And Matthijs, from startup Ptthee, indicated that the feedback had much more depth than, for example, reviews on the website. Furthermore, it is great fun for the members of the test panel to meet the people behind the products and hear their story.”

Innofest is a very interesting partner for ImpactCity, says Samwel. “The room for experimentation they facilitate is very important for innovative startups. After all, they have to test possible how potential buyers assess their product. Very cool to be able to alternatively do this online and to help entrepreneurs move forward”, Samwel refers to the upcoming edition of Innofest Test Teevee. Vermaat hopes to collaborate more often with municipalities such as The Hague. “With municipalities the importance of sustainable innovation is now really on the map. Testing is crucial to give those innovations a chance to succeed. With Innofest we are very happy to help.”


From banana bread to male meat

During ImpactFest, the online panel will test four products. These are all food innovations that make the world a bit better.

  • For example, the entrepreneurs of De Lekkere Man want to get the meat of male animals on the menu. With this they want to prevent animals such as roosters, bulls and bucks from being killed unnecessarily.
  • What is yellow and curved and one of the most wasted products in the world? Indeed: the banana. To combat this waste, the founders of SUNT make bread from bananas that would otherwise end up in the trash.
  • At Yespers preventing waste is also key. These entrepreneurs make breakfast products from often wasted ingredients. They buy them directly from the producer, which keeps the supply chain short.
  • The founders of Meet Jack want to introduce jackfruit on the Dutch market as a meat substitute. This fruit is full of fiber, magnesium and vitamins. In addition, the tree, which produces at least 200 fruits annually, requires little water.

Are you one of the virtual visitors of Impact Fest from 27 to 29 October?

Would you like to register for the Innofest Test Teevee test panel and try the products mentioned above? Click here for tickets (€10,- for three days) and the Test Teevee package (also €10,-).

The deadline to submit for the test panel is Friday 23 October, 12h00. For more information about Impact Fest and the program, go to impactfest.nl.